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Proceedings Paper

Applications of matrix lightcurve inversion: an image of Pluto
Author(s): William F Drish; Walter J. Wild; Robert Harmon; Robert L. Marcialis
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Paper Abstract

Matrix lightcurve inversion (MLI) is an indirect imaging technique that can be used to infer surface albedo distributions, pole orientations, and 3D shapes for planets, moons, and asteroids from rotational photometric lightcurves. Also, MLI can be used to map the brightness distributions of magnetically active spotted stars. Pluto represents an almost ideal application for MLI, because it is a spherical body with a known pole orientation and it is always in opposition to the Sun as observed from Earth. There is evidence that an extensive covering of methane or nitrogen frost sublimates as Pluto approaches perihelion, exposing a dark layer of photolyzed methane or nitrogen in an uneven pattern, and then freezes out again as Pluto passes perihelion, once again covering the planet. Assuming that this hypothesis is correct, we present a 'snapshot' of Pluto as it would have appeared during the years 1980 to 1986. Recent Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images of Pluto, although not as detailed as the image presented here, tend to confirm our snapshot of Pluto.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 August 1995
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 2622, Optical Engineering Midwest '95, (18 August 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.216811
Show Author Affiliations
William F Drish, Association of Railroads (United States)
Walter J. Wild, Univ. of Chicago (United States)
Robert Harmon, Univ. of Chicago (United States)
Robert L. Marcialis, Univ. of Arizona (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2622:
Optical Engineering Midwest '95
Rudolph P. Guzik, Editor(s)

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